Has any US president, during their tenure in office, accidentally told the public or the press secret or top secret information?

Bonus question: Is there an official procedure for if this were to happen?


2 Answers 2


Yes, Several times in the lead up to the war with Iraq, George W Bush revealed information from his PDB that was not only secret but his revealing of the information put some of our agents at risk of exposure.

However the president is the ultimate classification authority, meaning that the person holding the office of POTUS, can classify or declassify government documents as the needs of the country dictate. Unlike when aides and staffers accidentally/incidentally reveal classified\secret information there is no reporting of the breach required.

  • 5
    Isn't there a specific procedure that POTUS needs to follow in order to declassify documents? The way I see it, the President cannot intentionally leak information (because he can declassify anything), but he might accidentally do so (i.e. before completing the legally required procedure). Am I right?
    – A. Darwin
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 20:31
  • 2
    Can you provide examples of Bush leaking Iraq-related info that put agents in danger?
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 22:04
  • 3
    @A.Darwin - No this was discussed during the Valerie Plame issue. The president has full executive authority to share what ever information he feels he has the need to share regardless of classification. Scooter Libby confirmed a GWB leak. Despite the fact that GWB had shared the name previously with a media source the information was not declassified. That is why he went to jail and nothing happened with GWB. Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 22:13
  • 4
    @Lembik - That is LITERALLY the job of the president. Every action the president does is technically supposed to be in furtherance of enforcing existing laws. In most cases the president delegates those decisions, but if you think that the president did not have a say in the decision not to charge Hillary, or the decision to charge Scooter Libby, well I have a great piece of beach front property in your price range id like to interest you in... Commented Jan 3, 2017 at 16:54
  • 2
    @SoylentGray your specific examples would greatly strengthen your answer if they were included with appropriate citations
    – Colin
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 5:14

Jimmy Carter in an open forum after he killed the B1 bomber told the public we were developing stealth aircraft years before we had them.He was trying to win an election and broke the news to establish his defense creds.

  • 14
    Your answer would greatly improve if you add a source/reference for that :-)
    – user11249
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 21:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .